the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Granny, Won’t You Drive My Car?


Dear Mom,

How are you doing in all that East Coast heat?  Are you making sure Dad puts on the air-conditioning?  Force him to.  Tell him you’re going to divorce him and he’ll have to make his own Cheerios if he doesn’t leave the air-conditioner on all night. 

Enjoying the blog?   Be careful when you read it at work.  You don’t want to get fired.  Although that would be sort of cool.  You could become a star in the blogosphere.  Like Dooce.  You can be the first mother fired from her job for reading her son’s blog.

Actually, I’m writing about something serious today, and I’m interested in your perspective:

Yesterday afternoon, Sophia and I met for lunch.  While we were driving down La Cienega, there was this car swerving in and out of lanes, as if the driver was terribly drunk.   We barely avoided colliding with it twice.  Sophia honked.  We figured it was some kind of drunk-off-his-ass kid.   As we sped up next to the car, hoping to pass, we noticed that it wasn’t any type of kid, but an elderly woman.   She was driving 20 miles an hour and wore glasses three times my prescription.  This woman was dangerous!  It made me think of that elderly guy who drove smack into the touristy Santa Monica Promenade a couple of years ago, killing 10 people.

You can’t really blame older people for wanting to drive in a city like Los Angeles, but why the hell do we allow them to do it — without some sort of safety net?   Los Angeles seems more concerned with smoking on the beach than all these dangerous drivers.

How many times have we joked about you and Dad having New York State driver’s licenses?   How in God’s name does New York keep on renewing your license?  When was the last time you drove — 1960?  And if I remember the story, you drove three blocks from that summer house in Coney Island to the boardwalk? 

And Dad?… he has trouble opening up the door to my Honda.  Have you ever actually seen him drive a car?  Giving Dad a driver’s license is as dangerous as giving Christian Slater some drugs to "hold for a friend."

Maybe Brooke will stop by the blog today and leave a comment about life driving in Florida.  Remember the last time we were in Florida?   Eighty year old men would get out from their wheelchair and into the driver’s seat!

Now, I don’t want to make this into an "attack old people" post.  If there’s one thing I hate about Americans is that we don’t respect our senior citizens.  And there are plenty of younger people who shouldn’t be driving.  It’s as if they make you take your driver’s test once — when you’re a teenager in your prime health — and then they just ship you off onto the freeway!   I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a blind guy getting his license renewed.  Would you?

I know you’re thinking of retiring to Florida.  But with all those geriatric drivers, I’m getting a little worried about your safety.  Wouldn’t it be safer just staying in crime-ridden Flushing? 

Unless… oh, no, you better not be — you and Dad aren’t planning on DRIVING in Florida?  Because if you are, I need to warn the others now!

Love, Neil


  1. M.A.

    My grandma made me promise to take away her license if she gets too dangerous, but she doesn’t drive that much and she’s really young for a grandma. But I’m glad that she’s willing to give up driving at the right time. Oh, I’ve rambled today.

  2. ekramer

    it is the states and gov fault. when you reach 65 you should be given a eye examination each year and not be given a license for 5 or 10 year renewal.

  3. Pearl

    Neil, you’re such an adoring, caring son. Nice to see… Hope your parents appreciate your lovingkindness as depicted ON A BLOG FOR HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE TO WITNESS!
    BTW, in Florida, especially in those retirement villages set on golf course, I think it’s the golf carts your folks would have to look out for. (didn’t Jerry Seinfeld have some routine re. driving in Florida?)

  4. Neil

    Thanks, Mom! By the way, if you see me wearing a red Kabbalah string when you come visit in December, you have my permission for you and Dad to disown me.

  5. JJ MacMillan

    How would you get around if you didn’t drive? Public transportation in 98% of this country is a joke.

    Let’s all think together. Where did we leave the $200 billion for our infrastructure? Was it under the couch? No, not there. In the cookie jar? Nope, not there, either. Oh, I remember what we did with it. It’s in Iraq.

  6. brando

    robert culp is your grandmother?

  7. anonymous city girl

    I had a 6 month gig in Sarasota, FLA. The most beautiful place I have ever lived. There was a joke around the theatre: the parents of all those people who retire to FLA live in Sarasota. They were all wonderfully sweet and open people in that town (almost all transplants from up north). They all generously opened the hearts and home to me for Shabbat dinners and Passover Seders (although that was a trap to be introduced to about 20 sons/grandsons at one time). But only once did I get in a car with them. SCARY! And driving was almost worse, like playing dodge ball with cars. I walked almost everywhere, being from a city and not having my own car there, and even then crossing the street was taking your life in your own hand. I ended up on a hood of a car more than once; luckily they were moving slow enough to cause minimal damage.
    There is decent public transportation in Sarasota/St. Armand’s area (and it’s only 50 cents!!!!) but it stops running at about 6pm.
    Whenever I go to visit FLA for family or friends, I always get in the car, buckle up, and close my eyes till we get to our destination.
    FYI – if your parents want something a little off the beattin’ path, but still close to a major city, check out Anna Marie Island. I use to ride my bike there on my days off.

  8. Neil

    Brando — That’s Mrs. Robert Culp to you.

  9. Jack


  10. Tatyana

    Right, JJ: all those fleets of trams, buses and ricshaws that Mr. Clinton has showered on this nation and made it a world’s envy of public transportation were sold by Bush=Hitler to hatemongers/neocons to fund the Iraq adventure. Oh, wait, there wasn’t any such thing in this country, not in Clinton’s time, nor Bush’s, nor his father’s. In fact, I have no idea, when exactly there was a public transportation system in US designed to move the populace minus private cars?

  11. Bad Maria

    My grandmother finally decided two years ago, after driving from Emmett Idaho to visit her sister in San Jose, CA, that maybe it was time to hang up the car keys. She turned 89 this summer. I commend my Gram for knowing when it’s time to hitch a ride or buy a plane ticket.

  12. mary

    Arizona renews licenses for like, 30 years or something crazy. Mine doesn’t expire til April of 2037. That seems awfully trustworthy of AZ to think none of its residents need a refresher course in that time.

  13. ms. sizzle

    my grandmother never got her license and i think we were all safer for it.

  14. Jason W.

    Same thing around Leisure World, or, as it’s now known, the city of Laguna Woods. Frightening.

  15. Jack


    This kind of rhetoric is why people don’t take much of the left seriously.

  16. Neil

    Let’s hold our horses, here. It was Tatyana who made this reference mocking “liberal-speak.” No one actually said this comment here about Bush and the other guy.

  17. modigli

    I’m in FLA now. When you’re on the road you have to think for yourself, AND the other drivers. Anything could happen! And one elderly lady almost hit me on my bike! Scary stuff!

  18. Jack

    What does it mean to hold our horses. It sounds like code to me. 😉

  19. anonymous city girl

    everyone should just ride horses… then you have to stop riding and take the coach once you can’t climb up on it anymore.

  20. Marisa

    I live in a building that has a very large population of elderly people. It’s in the middle of center city Philadelphia, and yet many people keep cars in the building’s garage. I watch the little old people, who can hardly walk through the lobby, who can’t see and can’t hear, walker (complete with tennis balls on the from legs) themselves into the garage and get behind the wheels of 20 foot long Buicks. They terrify me.

  21. Bama Girl

    My grandfather lives in a nursing home and still drives. It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. He’s like a bowling ball on the highway.

  22. danielle

    Neil, Disown you because of kabbalah, or the red string? I would think they would be happy (like my fam was) that you are embracing your jewish roots.

  23. ladymathematician

    A friend of mine was waiting for a bus in college. An old lady that was on meds and shouldn’t have been allowed to drive a grocery cart turned the wrong way up the drive and…8 years later, friend is still in wheelchair with no short term memory.

  24. Miriam

    I protest your blatant discrimination on the behalf of all the other codgers and codgerettes. People, you don’t have to be able to walk to be able to drive, so forget the mean wheelchair stuff. Even if you need a wheelchair, a walker, or a cane, you can have a life, including driving.

  25. Neil

    Miriam, I’m assuming you were being serious here, and not sarcastic. I’m beginning to see the use for all those emoticons.

    My apologies if you saw this as an attack on the handicapped or seniors. I once saw a guy driving who had no legs! — and he seemed to drive fine with some high-tech contraption. My point is that the government just lets almost anyone drive, even if they’re not equipped to be driving safely.

    So, if you use a cane, you don’t have to whack me over the head anymore.

    Now, please comment again and tell me you were being serious — so I don’t just look like some wimp who was afraid of a woman in a wheelchair.

  26. plain jane

    I took care of a dear gentleman with Parkinson’s and he had lost his driver’s license because of his illness. Several years later he wanted me to take him to buy an old VW bug because as he said, “If I hit someone it won’t hurt them because the car is so small.”

  27. Frances Cott

    I am a senior citizen who was hit by an out of control 27 yr old policeman and by a twistof circumstances is now trying to pass the road test. He was dropped from the police force. There is a determination to not allow a senior citizen to pass the road test. Alas, I am driving with a learners permit and my income strem is being destroyed by this accident due to no fault of my owm. So stop all this anti-senior citizen attacking.I never put a victim in the hospital in 64 years of driving.

  28. Neil

    Frances — Thank you for responding to this post. I never intended this to be an attack on seniors. My own mother, who is now a senior, is much more passionate about this subject than I am — because she travels with friends who probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. I believe everyone should be re-tested, whatever the age. I’m sure there are plenty of younger folk who shouldn’t be out there anymore. Seniors just naturally have more health issues, such as bad eyesight, etc. that can make them poor drivers. Let’s be real.

    This is an uncomfortable subject to talk about, because driving is important to so many seniors — it gives them mobility. This issue is not really about seniors but the lack of government involvement. My own mother still has a driver’s license and can legally drive, but she has not been behind the wheel of a car in 40 years!

  29. A Senior Citizen Guide for College

    I believe there come a time when you have to hang up your keys. I don’t think it is 65. You have to be 67 to reach full retirement age if you were born in the last 50 years, so where do you define elderly at this day and age.

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